Category Archives: Discussions

Adventure Genre Discussion – Feb. 7, 2018

cover imageThe Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) met Wed., Feb. 7, at the Attleboro Public Library to discuss Historical Adventure, a subgenre of Adventure fiction.

The benchmark title was The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, first in a ongoing series. (The tenth book in The Last Kingdom series came out in 2016.)

First we talked about characteristics of Historical Adventure, based on our supplemental readings:

  • Hannon, Michael. Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Bad Guys. Introduction, pp. ix–xii
  • Hannon, Michael. Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Bad Guys. Chapter 11: On the High Seas, pp. 217-18
  • Hooper, Brad. Read On…Historical Fiction, Action-Packed Adventures, pp. 85-89

We also used the Adventure chapter from The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed. by Joyce Saricks, which we used in December’s meeting, and which we will continue to refer to throughout our study of the Adventure genre.

We discussed key elements of historical adventure fiction:

  • Often slower pace, longer time span than in contemporary adventure
  • Still a story focused on life-and-death situations, often a mission
  • Usually a satisfying ending with order restored in some way
    (“Romance for men”)
  • Identifiable hero, likeable and extremely capable, often has a sidekick (Bromance)
  • Often continuing series with same characters
  • Detailed battle scenes, realistic military/historical period setting
  • Often have historical notes at the end, as well as maps, ship plans
  • Tone often dark, due to danger, but humor can lighten tone
  • Language usually colorful, often with military jargon, makes reader feel knowledgeable. Pronunciation guides are common.

“The adventure/suspense story is probably the oldest of human kind’s fiction genres and can be traced back to tales that prehistoric people told around a flickering fire or scratched with charcoal onto cave walls. The archetypal hero who must surmount overwhelming obstacles is not only the basis of much of our earliest literature, he (and now she) is also the foundation of all modern adventure stories. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, Beowulf, the Song of Roland, Shakespeare’s tragedies are gripping adventure stories as well as classic literature”                    – Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Bad Guys

We talked about whether historical adventure had to be about war, and decided that, although it often may be set during times of war, it didn’t need to be, but there needed to be some sort of danger, a visible enemy, and some amount of fighting involved.

We discussed The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, our benchmark title, in reader’s advisory terms:

  • Very accurately described battle scenes, not as much humor as the authors Sharpe series
  • Historical note to say where author departed from historical fact
  • Lots of dialogue helps keep pace up, though story spans years
  • First-person point of view lends immediacy and lightens the tone
  • Were there exotic locales, foreign countries?
  • Military strategy is important to the story
  • Main character sees events on both sides, English and Danish
  • Characters are fully developed, some strong women
  • There is a villain character, but the shifting loyalties of main character add subtlety and depth to the story, which is set in a period of time when nationality was more fluid than it is now

Second titles will be posted soon; it’s OK to submit yours still, if you forgot! We had a lot of overlap in our second titles in the Historical Adventure subgenre this month, but the ones we discussed in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors – frame, tone, pacing, plot/storyline, characters – included the following:

Brethren by Robin Young
Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon (2)
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
(audiobook highly recommended)
River God by Wilbur Smith
The Sea Witch by Helen Hollick (2)

Please register online for the Tuesday, April 3rd meeting, 10am-12pm, at the Hanover Public Library to talk about Espionage/Political Thrillers. (Please note location change!) The benchmark title will be The Camel Club by David Baldacci.

New members are always welcome to jump in at any point in the year.

Save

Advertisements

Adventure Genre Discussion – Dec. 7, 2017

The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) met Thursday, December 7, at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree to discuss the Adventure genre. The benchmark title was your choice of a novel by Clive Cussler. Many of us read Treasure, Sahara, or Raise the Titanic! – all novels featuring Cussler’s best-known manly hero, Dirk Pitt.

We talked about characteristics of the Adventure genre, in general, based on our supplemental readings:

  • Saricks, Joyce. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed. Chapter 2: Adventure, pp. 15–33
  • Saricks, Joyce. Getting Up to Speed in Adventure Fiction (NoveList)

We discussed key elements of adventure fiction:

  • Fast pace, often short time span
  • Story focused on action and life-and-death situations, often a mission, usually a happy ending with order restored (“Romance for men”)
  • Identifiable hero, likeable and extremely capable
  • Detailed settings, often foreign places, often include maps
  • Tone often dark, due to danger, but humor can lighten tone
  • Language usually colorful, often with military jargon, makes reader feel involved

“Cinematic is a term often applied to Adventure story lines…These are stories made for the big screen, with larger-than-life heroes on seemingly impossible missions, often striving for the ultimate goal of making the world safe, if not actually saving it through their efforts. As in Romance and Suspense, readers expect a happy ending.” – The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed.

We talked about the Clive Cussler benchmark titles that we read and answered “yes” to most of these questions, except for the last one:

  • Did the book you chose have a one-word title?
  • Did the story have a hero on a mission?
  • How does Dirk Pitt set the standard for the typical Adventure hero?
  • Was the action in the book over-the-top?
  • Were there exotic locales, foreign countries?
  • Any female characters play an important role in the story?

Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt character was described by the group as having a strong moral code, natural leadership ability, and unerring intuition. Also very smart and brilliant at tactical maneuvers – always a step ahead of everyone else in figuring out what the enemy/villain will do next.

We also talked about book covers of adventure fiction and Maggie’s theory that blues and greens predominate, while warmer colors (red, orange, yellow) would indicate the book was geared more towards thriller readers.

Second titles have been posted; it’s OK to submit yours still, if you forgot! Second titles in the Adventure genre that we read and talked about in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors – frame, tone, pacing, plot/storyline, characters – included the following:

Phantom by Ted Bell

Columbus Affair by Steve Berry

Origin by Dan Brown

The Bear by James O. Curwood

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Altar of Eden by James Rollins

Missed the meeting? View the agenda which also lists additional RA resources we talked about.

Please register online for the Wed., February 7th meeting, 10am-12pm, at the Attleboro Public Library to talk about Historical Adventure. New members are always welcome to jump in at any point in the year.

Save